I can’t remember the last time I had this little faith coming into a Texas A&M basketball game. We were shorthanded on the road against the #3 team in the nation... and things played out about as you’d expect in that scenario.
To our credit, we came out of the gate well, and we were even tied at 28 with around five minutes remaining in the first half. But then I made a foolish mistake. I started to feel hope.
That hope was beaten out of me with a merciless 62-28 Gonzaga run over the next 20 minutes, and I considered my lesson learned. In the end, it was only Gonzaga’s mercy (and some decent late game scoring by our 2’s) that kept this deficit near 20.
Let’s break it down. Begrudgingly.
Put simply, TJ Starks kept us in this thing early. He was absolutely fearless, repeatedly getting to the rim and finishing through contact, to the tune of 14 first half points.
We also did a decent job defensively in the first half, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was more “Gonzaga failing to execute” and less “Texas A&M forcing Gonzaga to take bad shots.”
It was a feeling that would unfortunately come to bear in the second half.
Halftime Score: Gonzaga 43, Texas A&M 33
There’s really no game flow to discuss, here. Gonzaga overwhelmed us on both ends of the floor, eventually opening up a 90-56 lead before calling off the dogs.
It was a grim look at our future, particularly if Gilder and Mitchell continue to miss time due to injury concerns. Without those two, we simply don’t appear to have the horses to compete at a high level.
Final Score: Gonzaga 94, Texas A&M 71
As you might imagine, this section isn’t going to be full of sunshine and rainbows. Let’s hit the carnage.
- 3-point shooting continues to elude us. The Aggies submitted another dud, hitting 5-18 for an unhealthy 27.8%... and it actually increased our season-long average to 22.6%. Good for 330th in the country. This offense flat out doesn’t work if the defense doesn’t respect our long range shooting.
- Savion Flagg had another solid statistical performance (18 points, 5 rebounds; 7-14 shooting). He disappeared a little when Gonzaga was running riot, but that was honestly a team-wide ailment.
- For all of the grumbling about Starks through the first three games, our offensive sets without him were truly awful. There was, quite simply, no one that the defense feared during the 14 minutes he spent on the bench. He may be frustrating to watch, but until Gilder comes back, we’ve got to have him on the floor.
- Through three games, our average possession length on defense is 13.5 seconds. That’s the 4th fastest rate in the country according to KenPom. Teams get good looks against us, and they get them quickly.
- Mark Titus famously coined the term ‘trillion’ to promote walk-ons that have no impact on a basketball game. The term comes from the box score appearance associated with that phenomenon - the number 1 (minutes played) followed by columns and columns of zeros. It’s a fun thing to look out for. Chris Collins was three fouls away from submitting a 14 trillion. He didn’t hurt us, but he also... didn’t really do anything. That’s a lot of “nothing” minutes to absorb.
- Walker was efficient in his limited time, yet again. Granted, he did most of his damage in garbage time, but he has earned a spot in the rotation even when we’re back at full strength.
There’s not a ton we can glean from this, honestly. When a top five team hit their stride, the current version of Texas A&M Basketball didn’t belong on the same floor. Will that change when Gilder and Mitchell come back? I sure hope so, because we’ve got two tricky games in Vancouver (Minnesota and Washington) before we come home.
Without a full compliment of players, I fear we could be looking at an 0-3 road trip. Next up is another late one (9:30pm; ESPN2) against Minnesota on Sunday night.